Zero G arena, a third-person online multiplayer shooter, developed and published by solo game designer Johnathon Woods, utilises ragdoll physics to simulate weightlessness inside a sandbox environment using the Unreal Engine. This new Indie title has added something fresh and exciting to the shooter/action genre with its additive zero gravity gameplay, and it’ss poised to only get better with more polish and content.

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But, since it is still in early development, there are only a small amount of options available to players at this time. The single player mode is currently still an empty map, intended for testing purposes or practising, with potential A.I. opponents in the future, however, the online game mode is where the meat of the game lies. Here, you can play free for all, or team death matches by joining others servers, or hosting your own game with your friends and setting your own score limits.

So, how do you move about the maps in a game with zero gravity? Well, players can activate their magnet boots at any time and snap to the floor, so long as you are close enough to any surfaces with a magnetic field, which are identified as metallic tiles with blue neon lighting. Or float to, or between, platforms using a grappling beam device, and without this beam, you’re not going anywhere. It can be tricky to use at first, but you’ll soon come to rely on it to manoeuvre in and out of cover and to swing across to your desired locations.

The brilliance of this game is that these magnetic floors can be found on all angles. One player’s surface is another player’s wall or ceiling. Allowing for matches to be won or lost through how effective your tactics are within the weightless environment. Of the four available maps, I found that the best ones were more claustrophobic, allowing for some quick stunts in and out of the intense battles.

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Catapulting or dropping from one platform to another in the middle of a firefight can potentially give you the upper hand, allowing you to find new weapons or a health pack that you might desperately need. Speaking of weapons, there are a total of five to be found at specific locations, each providing a new way of eliminating your fellow spacewalkers. On the surface, Zero G Arena does look like most other third-person shooters, but with all these ideas combined, it makes for some challenging and interesting gameplay.

The space-age platforms and neon coloured lights really help to sell the no gravity theme. A greater use of lighting effects would further benefit the unique gameplay. There is a small amount of customization available in this pre-alpha build. Your avatar can be changed with colour sliders for both the suit and armour pieces. This will help to differentiate yourself from your opponents.

Sound effects are basic and restricted to a few game mechanics. You’ll hear other players’ footsteps and grappling beams before they are seen, helping to increase your awareness, and weapons fire is varied enough to know what hit you from behind, sideways or above. There is no in-game music as of yet, so be sure to have your favourite gaming soundtrack pumping from your desktop.

In addition to more maps and game modes, I would like to see some gamepad support. However, the keyboard and mouse setups work well enough, and they can be re-bound for a more personal configuration. I would also like to see more ways of increasing the dynamic gameplay. Some ideas could include grenades or some type of variant, destructible objects, additional environmental hazards, and teleport pads are a must.

Other additional power-ups to help turn the tide of a battle could be available for a limited amount of time, such as a firearms boost or a rare weapon. A flamer or a missile launcher anyone? More helmets and armour customizations would also be very welcome.

The future development of this game is very dependent on the critical feedback that the developer receives, and fortunately, Zero G Arena has received many positive reviews so far in its early access. It is my hope that the game’s popularity will explode so that the developer is inspired to continue working on his exciting creation.

This systematic, yet chaotic shooter is fun and definitely worth your time, and it’s currently free to play. Check it out here.

Tim Pearce is a freelance journalist and contributor to PN2. Go say hi over on MeatBaitMedia!

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